COVID-19 and the Working Class in the United States

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

In my last post, I considered how globalization set the stage for the #COVID pandemic in the United States, and how globalizers contributed to its spread among themselves and among the working class. In this post — which will turn out to be shorter than I planned, because I had a brainwave I want to get to — I’ll consider the working class alone. Let’s start by looking at one person, Ceci Dominguez, described by Bloomberg in “Coronavirus Shock Is Destroying Americans’ Retirement Dreams“:

Ceci Dominguez celebrated her 67th birthday alone in her home in the Elysian Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles. The threat of coronavirus kept her from friends and family—and from the part-time jobs and informal gigs that keep her frugal budget balanced.

As her few investments were plunging in value, she’d thought about driving down to the Census Bureau, where a job was waiting if she just got her picture taken and picked up an employee ID. The Census Bureau would pay $25 an hour, almost $11 more than the rate she earned working 19 hours a week at a private school that abruptly closed the week before. But the virus news was insisting she stay in.

“I’m always looking for a job. Always,” she says. “This time, I think I’m going to pass.” Once a middle manager at a food company, Dominguez used to consider herself upper middle class. Then her employer was bought. She lost her job and, at 59, discovered no one would hire her for comparable work. She never thought that in her late 60s she’d be contemplating risking her health for the chance at a part-time job. “I’m right there at the edge,” Dominguez says. “The next couple months are going to be tough.”

The article’s theme is the madness of the 401(k), which makes a “comfortable retirement” a matter of market timing. But Ceci’s case illustrates another theme: Ceci, when you strip away her good luck of a management job, strip away her few investments, and strip away her privilege of worrying her health, is somebody The Bearded One would recognize instantly: She sells her labor power to survive (“I’m always looking for a job. Always”). Ceci is, therefore, a member of the working class, like the great majority of all Americans. “The next couple months are going to be tough” is not her plight alone. There are tens and tens of millinos of Cecis, of all genders, races, ages, nationalities, religions, musical tastes, and so forth — some luckier than others, but all united in reality, if not “identiyfing as,” by that single fact of life.

It’s worth taking a moment to realize that one thing that the Bailout bill — entitled, with rich irony, the CARES Act — did not do, in any way, was relax the pressure to the Ceci’s of this world to “always look for a job. Always.” The much-ballyhooed $1200 payment is at least two months out, because our failed state can’t cut checks or issue cash cards. Further, it’s delivered through the IRS to a bank account, which leaves out 55 million Americans who are un- or underbanked. (Elizabeth Warren used to be big on that. Oh well.) Unemployment benefits are the primary mechanism for delivering relief, which leaves out many gig workers and the entire informal economy. There is no thought of a monthly payments, even temporarily. There is no help for renters (although there’s a metric fuck-ton of money for rentiers). In short, the CARES Act offers no relief to members of the working class because they are members of the working class. One account remarks:

True, but incomplete. I would say that the CARES Act contains a shamefully small smidgeon of mitigation for the condition of being waged in the United States (amelioration in the form of “decent govt benefits” being part, but only a part). Everybody is being nice to Sanders now because improving unemployment benefits reinforces the wage relation, not because they care about relieving human suffering.

What I was planning to do in this post was divide the working class, for expositional purposes, into two buckets: The waged, and the culled. The Bearded One would have called the latter “the reserve army of the unemployed,” considering them an object lesson of the Hell to those who cannot or will not sell their labor will fall into, but I think modern capitalism has worked out ways to extract profit from their bodies as well (as for example in nursing homes, or in jail) even if they have not entered into a proper wage relation. I would have considered, for the waged, the privileges of remote labor, the difficulty of social distancing in cramped houses and workplaces, the plight of informal workers, and the general predicament of no way to sell one’s labor, bills to pay, rent due on the first of the month, and relief a long, long way off. (Adding to the grim amusement many must feel is the House and the Senate shutting down. Easy for them!) For the culled, I would have considered the effects of the virus on nursing home patients , the homeless, those in jail or prison, and detained migrants. But then I got a bright idea.

The great conondrum of the 2020 campaign is the failure of the Sanders Theory of Change. Fools like Chait chirp that “Democrat voters didn’t want Sanders,” but the point of the Sanders campaign was always to change who Democrat voters were, by bringing working class voters into the fold (“the multiracial, multigenerational working class, as the formula had it, in my view a concession to idpol goons, but you go to war with the staffers you have). I speculated on the reasons for that failure here (and here), but we may in fact never know, until the books come out, and the best we’ll get this year is some Times bigfoot going out and sitting in a diner somewhere. Maybe the working class hates Democrats for their betrayals, so the brand is irretrievably poisoned for them; heaven knows they have reason enough. Regardless, to complete a hostile takeover of the Democrat Party, the Sanders campaign would have had to engage successfully with the working class, and they did not. Worse, they got owned by the Democrat Establishment on Obama’s Night of the Long Knives. Where the Sanders movement is headed at this point, I don’t think anyone knows. (It’s worth remembering that the List, the media operation, and the canvassing operation (including the Bern App) are still powerful assets.) And, to be fair, Joe Biden might slip a cog at any time, and people might start looking at Cuomo’s record.

All that said, I listen a lot to Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast, and even though Duncan is hardly a devotee of The Bearded One, he really does have a genius for conveying the broad sweep of historical events, and deftly sketching in the players; I recommend it. (It starts with the English Revolution in 1625 (!); a key take-away from the series is that revolutions are not rare events (which isn’t advocacy, since results can be tragic)).

In Duncan’s podcast, we are now in Russian Revolution of 1905: 10:37, the General Strike. There’s one big lesson to be learned from the episode: The workers were way ahead of the “organizers” (Marxist and otherwise); “There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader,” as Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin said in 1848. The background for the general unrest and the strike, besides horrid material conditions, was an enormous March on the Czar’s Winter Place under the theory — which the workers and the peasants believed — that “the Czar is good, and he will help us.” Then a large number of the marchers got shot, which put paid to that theory. Expecting the Democrat Establishment to recognize any Sanders victory in 1905 as legitimate — and not to oppose his insurgency with every fibre of their being — is the 2020 equivalent of “If only the Czar knew.”

What if we were not in 1856 (dissolution of the Whigs) but 1905 (mass strikes in Russia)? We’ve just had two enormous collapses, followed by two enormous bailouts, in less than a decade. In each case, the working class got nothing. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me, eh? Yes, I know that “We must have a general strike!” is on a par with “We must take the streets!” in the left virtue signaling sweepstakes, but — hear me out — maybe there’s a way forward with scaled down expectations. Suppose instead of a general strike, which takes an enormous amount of planning, workers throughout the United States[1] simultaneously with-held their labor for one-half hour at a set time — say, 4:20PM on April 20 — and then started working again? Truckers, longshoremen, taxi drivers, delivery people, machinists, grocery workers, Walmart stackers, everyone (but especially those at key points in the supply chain, whose fragility is now open and obvious). The analogy would be the CIO sit-down strikes of the 30s. There would need to be a demand: To meet the current crisis, $2000 a month basic income would seem a minimum. That’s something that easily become, well, viral. And 420/420/2000 is a pretty good slogan, easily spray-paintable, and so forth. The object would be for the working class to send its own shock and to know its own power; something that the Sanders campaign, for all its brilliance as a campaign, did not do. A self-funding organization devoted to the working class, with an enormous list, an independent media organization, and a huge canvassing organization might be able to do its little bit to accelerate that process. #JustSaying.

Well, that was my brainwave. Of course, I know that by virtue of my class position, I too am a Ledru-Rollin. So what I hope is that this post is a spark in the right kind of kindling, somewhere. De l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace…


[1] If that’s too ambitious, do a city. I’d say New York, but you know, Brooklyn.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. dcblogger

    I think the demands have to begin with Jayapal’s Medicare for All bill and Tlaib’s bailout bill whose benefits include $2000 for everyone on EBT cards. A General Strike is going beyond virtue signalling, it has is taking hold of people’s imaginations. Let’s see if we can get a boycott of Amazon.

    1. Tangled up in Texas

      One would hope all of the corporate welfare in the $2 trillion dollar bailout would put paid to the notion that we can’t afford M4A, but I am not holding my breath.

      1. Samuel Conner

        I think we can rely on our rulers to affirm that “because we’ve already spent so much saving the economy, we durstn’t try something as ‘costly’ as M4A”

        Sociopaths, all of them.

  2. a non one

    So what I hope is that this post is a spark in the right kind of kindling, somewhere. De l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace… Lambert

    I’ve had two years of French but I spent most of it staring at my beautiful French teacher.

    So, I know the above gibberish (by definition all non-English, especially non-US English, languages are gibberish) is French but that’s about all.

    So if you are going to lead a US protest, you got to speak ‘Merican. Comprende?

    1. o4amuse

      And while we’re at it could anyone please explain for a perplexed old man who hasn’t been much of an activist since the days of the New Left who “The Bearded Man” is and what that means in Lambert context?

      1. JBird4049

        I think that you’re selling Americans too short. Not that many are truly ignorant blockheads. We have just been molded to think that we are and therefore we act it.

        De l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace et la Patrie sera sauvée!

        Audacity, then again audacity, always audacity and the Fatherland will be saved!

        —Georg Danton

        Although the man was eventually guillotined by his fellow Jacobins.

        I think that the Bearded One is our old friend Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin.

          1. 1 Kings

            Grizzly Adams…but now that I think about it, his pet bear Ben also rocked a beard, so either one.
            Both would be better than all the clean shaven criminals(male or female) in the DC.

      1. Alfred

        But instead we get austerity, more austerity, and never-ending austerity, so that the Fatherland will perish.

          1. flora

            Until they discover the glass ceiling they broke through isn’t a floor that can support them.

  3. DJG

    If we are to recognize that we are the working class, we also have to recognize that the most destructive weapon is withholding our labor. Why not strike? There has been a capital strike going on for years with underinvestment in public works and public goods. There has been confiscation of publicly owned work–and looting of the public fisc and the military.

    Now, because capitalism has been so malign for so long, we have a globalized environmental disaster as disease and potential problems with food distribution.

    How many of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have to canter across the sky before we collectively try something?

    Stealing from Wikipedia, which somehow gets it right:

    In John’s revelation, the first horseman is on a white horse, carrying a bow, and given a crown, riding forward as a figure of Conquest.[1] perhaps invoking Pestilence, Christ, or the Antichrist. The second carries a sword and rides a red horse and is the creator of War.[2] The third is a food merchant riding upon a black horse, symbolizing Famine.[3] The fourth and final horse is pale green, and upon it rides Death accompanied by Hades.[4] “They were given authority over a quarter of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and plague, and by means of the beasts of the earth.”[5]

    1. Eclair

      You say it well, DJG: “There has been a capital strike going on for years with underinvestment in public works and public goods. There has been confiscation of publicly owned work–and looting of the public fisc and the military.”

      Some days I feel like a English peasant watching the commons being enclosed: helpless and seething with rage. And having to bear with so many of my neighbors turning either to religion … it’s the will of god! … or to mindless optimism … the sun will come up tomorrow! Of course, they have lower blood pressure!

  4. Shonde

    You and your gardening, Lambert. Busy planting more seeds I see. Let’s hope they hit fertile ground.

      1. Angie Neer

        Who coined that? I want to attribute it properly when I say it to every person I meet (when it’s safe to meet people again).

        1. diptherio

          It appears to have been first penned by a Greek poet in the 1970s, and then later picked up by lefty activists in the US and/or Mexico. Or it could be one of those independent discoveries — a metaphor that’s universal and obvious enough that it arose separately in both Mexico and Greece…who knows, really. But it does appear that the first written use of the phrase was from Dinos Christianopoulos:

      2. coboarts

        Tasked to define my universal value, I decided upon, “thriving without permission.” Explaining that to a friend I explained that I looked for an example in nature, and I found it… Nature! Where we overlay our civil abstraction over nature and it peeks through, we call it weeds.

  5. Tim

    I think the proper path forward is patience.

    One by one with every passing year, additional people get screwed worse and worse, everything get’s more and more obvious. The steady drip of people that tell it like it is will insidiously change opinions, until there is collective will that we must elect people into power that will represent us. A will that is more powerful than the fear of change.

    1. HotFlash

      Mr/M/Prof/Dr Tim, I totally agree. But the timing? It is crucial and not evenly distributed. And, dare I say, They have been forewarned and thereforre forearmed. Joe Hill advised us to organize, we sorta did, but They did as well, and sooner, and better (eg, see Powell Memo).

      Sop, now what?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I suppose like Lazarus he might be resurrected — but Joe Hill is dead and he’s been in no one’s dreams for years.

  6. Grizziz

    I really think (of course I could be shown to be wrong) that Sanders vote for the bailout seems to be a signal that he will play the sheepdog for the DNC in trying to bring his supporters into the D column in November.
    In the interim the Covid-19 medical emergency will likely subside. Social distancing will remain because the number of people without immunity will still roughly be 2/3 of the population. There will be large uncreative destruction of jobs and employers and a rearrangement of the workforce. This great reshuffling will produce a very dynamic political situation prior to the election and it is possible that the Democrats might be able to retake the Presidency even without a charismatic candidate. This would only amount to two crumbs for the 90% instead of one in a new administration under the current DNC regime, yet this is where we are.

    1. HotFlash

      I really think (of course I could be shown to be wrong) that Sanders vote for the bailout seems to be a signal that he will play the sheepdog for the DNC in trying to bring his supporters into the D column in November.

      Well, me, I think it’s just that the progressives on both sides of the aisle (yes, such creatures exist!) just had to face that this was the best deal they were ever going to get from Pelosi and Schumer and McConnell. Re Prez race, Bernie said he’d support the Dem primary winner (hello, this is how democracy, and the Dem party, is *SUPPOSED* to work! Don’t like it? Fix it!). So yeah, he’s a man of his word ,and absent actual proof of poll-rigging,.. I expect him to do the same as he did in2016 w/Ms Clinton, when he did a bunch of rallies for her. IIRC, he did not actually say she was a great candidate, just VoteBlueNoMatterWho, which is gentlemanly, in the circumstances. Generic support, if you will. IIRC, he did more rallies than she did for herself, but pls, verify that for yourselves.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I don’t think there is any reasonable explanation for Sanders vote for this “best deal”. Suppose it were the very best deal he were ever going to get from Pelosi and Schumer and McConnell. NO DEAL would be a better DEAL like that. If Big Money wants their plums force all their supporters to show their faces and tell their tales … so the Populace can remember them well.

        Sanders support for Hillery was barely perfunctory. But I don’t understand how even Dem party protocol could justify a Sanders statement beyond “I support the Democratic Party candidate” and say no more — perhaps finish that endorsement with a wink.

    2. Big River Bandido

      The Democrats would rather lose with anyone on the ticket rather than nominate Sanders. They will get their wish this fall. Turnout is likely to plummet, and the enough Sanders supporters are implacable enough in their anger toward the party to sink them them in the fall and feel glad about it. I will be one of millions.

  7. Synoia

    I was thinking about this:

    What if we were not in 1856 (dissolution of the Whigs) but 1905 (mass strikes in Russia). We’ve just had two enormous collapses, followed by two enormous bailouts, in less than a decade.

    1950 – 1980 Stop – Go economy in UK, based on Gold Standard.
    1971 – 1972 3 Day Week in UK
    1974 – 1975 Oil Shock
    1975 – 1979 US Retreats from Vietnam
    1980 – 1982 Fed Breaks labor
    1987 -1988 Flash Crash of Stock market
    2001 – 2004 IT CapX falls to Zero after Y2K Success
    2008 – 2013 Bear Sterns Collapse
    2020 – ? Corona Virus

    Chaotic system, no governors + bad management?

    It is a bit like a UK weather forecast:

    Tomorrow will be Cloudy, with Sunny periods and occasional Rain.

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    (assuming the tenor of our esteemed VP) HMP :Look at the power of this evil virus to bring together even the JG-er and the UBI-er.

    Amen. And Hallelujah!

  9. Dean

    Further, it’s delivered through the IRS to a bank account, which leaves out 55 million Americans who are un- or underbanked.

    That’s a feature not a bug.

    1. Carey

      Karl Marx, who to my total shock my two-doors-down neighbor just mentioned to me,
      along with the words “class relations”.

      1. ambrit

        Well, the first three are religious prophets while the latter is a fictional caretaker, or taker carer of fictions. So, Yes!

    2. skk

      My, that’s illustrative. I don’t mean that you didn’t know is the illustrative aspect. I mean that its a salutary lesson that when writing agitational material for the public, speak THEIR language, not one’s own inside-ball terms. Because who are you trying to influence here ?

      Separately, so the term is understood by some as Karl Marx. That makes sense too, given the context it was used in. But also for my long standing, 30 years longstanding Puerto Rican buddy it would be Fidel Castro.

  10. Will G Nadauld

    I am a working class fellow. I work in a warehouse full of cheese and yogurt. we typically ship 10million lbs per week of cheese. Last week was our biggest week ever at 14 million pounds. My work has lifted the 60 hr per week cap on hrs and every seventh day in a row worked is paid at double time. 46.00 per hr for those who are “capped out”. Last week our company gave every worker in the company 500 dollars out of their disaster relief fund.We are an employee owned company. Our company isnt publically traded. Our retirements are held in company stock. We did quite well during the last recession. I made about 65k last year driving a forklift. Where I am, that gets you a pretty good life. Our company has been supporting our local businesses like crazy. Giving out loaves of local baked bread everyday, buying lunches from local restaurants, etc. I feel closer to my company now than ever before.
    So many of us are deciding to take advantage of the extra hrs at work, there arent enough forklifts, but management will not send anyone home who wants to work. It feels like a party, and we are putting out record numbers.
    I feel a sense of fulfillment knowing im helping to keep people fed and shelves full. Usually, there is no fulfillment, just monotony and boredom.
    Most guys are republicans. I’m the only Bernie supporter, but I cant vote for Biden. Obama pretty much destroyed my democratic leanings. I know a few republican guys who despise trump.
    My govt. money will go directly to my savings acct. I have nothing I want to buy more than more security.

    1. judy2shoes

      >>I feel a sense of fulfillment knowing im helping to keep people fed and shelves full. Usually, there is no fulfillment, just monotony and boredom

      Meaningful work has been devalued in our society. I am so very glad that you have been able to see just how valuable you are in the grand scheme of things.

  11. db

    Lambert, the idea of a half -hour shutdown everywhere is brilliant!
    The “bearded one” would indeed be proud of you. Let’s hope your idea has “legs”.

  12. juliania

    Bless you, Lambert – I cherish your spirit! I was just reading Vijay Prishad’s essay on not returning to normal at Consortium News and the same spirit is there. He writes:

    “…Now, in the midst of the novel coronavirus, it seems impossible to imagine a return to the old world, the world that left us so helpless before the arrival of these deadly microscopic particles. Waves of anxiety prevail; death continues to stalk us. If there is a future, we say to each other, it cannot mimic the past…”

    If we take in what the pandemic is accomplishing in our present world, it is doing what the Tsar’s soldiers did to the Russian working man who thought the Tsar would save them only to be cut down so terribly. The pandemic is the sword of the neoliberal, and of the inadequacy of the government , poised over the heads of the working class.

    Vijay proposes a debate in his essay. You are saying we may be beyond debates. You may be right.

    Thanks to you both!

    1. Massinissa

      I don’t think its possible to ‘debate’ the sociopathic elites. It wasn’t possible before they were scared and desperate, and it will be less likely now. They won’t cede power, any power, no matter how minute, without a fight.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        But they’ll make some damned fine fertilizer.

        what i want to see come out of this…aside from my perennial hollering for localism and small ag and autarky for the people….is the broad realisation that the people who benefit the most from BAU are not worth a hill of beans…while those who actually matter to the functioning of civilisation are generally the worst off, and least regarded.
        the millionaires and billionaires and the politicians who do their bidding are parasites….and should be shunned, not idolised.
        if that enters the hive mind, it will be a good thing.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Their remains might poison the soil, and cremation would pollute the air. Bag their remains in plastic, set them deep in nuclear waste caves, and let them feed black fungus. It seems to grow on anything.

  13. cnchal

    > . . . In short, the CARES Act offers no relief to members of the working class . . .

    because the CARES ACT was written by and for the class that cares for itself and no one else. The working class is the cannon fodder in this “war” against the virus, and like all wars it was brought to them by the elites.

    On the math challenged news tonight, a $2.2 trillion package and what it means for you. A $1,200 pittance for the ones with the correct paperwork when it equates to $7260 per person in the US. Most of it to CARE for the billionaires, and no one asks, how are you going to pay for it?

    On top of that misdirection, a $4 trillion + cash for trash subsidy to the criminals of Wall Street through the FED. You know who is going to pay for that? Everybody that had a jawb at a collapsed company these greedy psycopaths can swoop in and take over for a penny on the dollar. Just like the GFC when Pirate Equity bought up all these forclosed homes, paying “the market price” that had collapsed due to the criminal acts of Wall Street. The dog eared playbook is pulled out again, cause the crisis and buy the assets for next to nothing due to the crisis, backed by the FED.

    Here is what I see. This disaster is just getting started.

    Mardi Gras and the sping break beach party in Florida amplify this disaster, spreading the virus far and wide. Some states are shut down, others are not, and the results of these individual state decisions is revealing. The comparison between Kentucky and Tennessee yesterday is a laser beam focus on the results of those decisions, and if you live in Tennessee, hide, and when you finally see your governor, punch him in the face. That is the least of what is deserved.

    I live in a border city, Windsor, right across the river from Detroit. Even with a shut down border between Canada and the US to “non essential traffic” there are about 6,000 or so people that cross daily, some live on this side and work in Detroit and some live in the Detroit area and work here. Detroit is getting swamped with this virus, to the extent that two members of the Detroit police have died from it so far, and hundreds of officers are off duty in isolation, including the police chief.

    The hospitals in Detroit are getting swamped, and many of the 6,000 that cross the border work in those hospitals, so you can see where this is going. So far Windsor has very few cases, we are in shutdown and told to stay at home, and basically go out to get food and supplies, and supermarket shelves look normal to me on the rare occasion I go. The working class that takes care of this is doing a “tremendous” jawb.

    The risk is that there is going to be a slip up by some of the essential workers that cross the border, it is almost inevitable, and a new pocket of infected people can start. So there is one path that the “working class of this region” can spread this virus, but that is not the biggest worry.

    My worry is that Detroit decends into chaos, becomes essentially an ungovernable no go zone, and undoubtedly our Windsor mayor, although he is too diplomatic to put it in those terms has that type of breakdown on his mind, because his call to the Canadian federal government to get the military to help secure the border and to shut down all crossing, is the logical response to what the future holds. I can see Americans getting into boats to get away from the ensuing chaos, and the Detroit River is not very wide.

    Is it dystopian enough yet?

    In January, when Wuhan was brought to everyone’s attention, there was just barely enough time to act and avoid the calamity.

    All flying shut down immediately, with rescue flights for citzens and legal residents of various countries, and the returnees quarantined on military bases for at least two weeks. No travel and stay at home orders for everyone, for two weeks. This would have allowed for the scarce resources to be focused on the inevitable outbreaks and this raging inferno of today would have been snuffed out. But, noooo, can’t do that.

    Freedumb is moar important. Now you have a raging narcissist demanding everyone kiss his ring or he won’t send ventilators, and by the way prole, get back to work, the economy and comfort of billionaires depend on you. What the fuck America? How are you going to pay for it?

    A half hour strike some aftenoon? Come on, man.

  14. Jeremy Grimm

    I think we should all buy new shoes — wooden shoes — and plenty of extra pairs in case we accidentally lose a shoe from time to time. Wooden shoes are actually very comfortable. I once had a pair of leather top Danish clogs I wore everywhere until the soles wore down.

    1. John A

      Growing up in Sweden, I and everyone else wore clogs, you could buy them everywhere, including at gas stations. Now when I go back, I never see any, though there is at least one fancy shop in London thats sells ‘designer Swedish clogs’. You can buy them online, I have bought them in the past from here. Highly recommended.

  15. urblintz

    Trump Claims Power to Gag Watchdog Overseeing Virus Stimulus

    “In a statement issued Friday to accompany his signature on the bill, Trump said the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, or SIGPR, cannot go to Congress if refused information by agencies about loans and investments made by the Treasury secretary.

    Creation of the oversight post was a key concession by Senate Republicans during the bill’s hasty development, sought by Democrats to ensure oversight over hundreds of billions of dollars in potential loans and spending.

    The inspector general will have the authority to seek information from government agencies, and report to congress any refusal of a reasonable request. Trump said in the statement that he won’t let that happen without his approval.”

    The Democrats were completely blindsided by the GOP’s masterfully evil collaboration with the fed. Dems thought 500 Billion for Wall Street w/oversight was a win they could brag about and BOOM, they were stuck with the “compromise” before they understood they had given away the store. Yes I think they were that stupid and outplayed. That so many quickly saw the upside and are celebrating w/ the GOP is not surprising but I do think the initial failure was stupidity. They would have been capable of such malign intent had they thought of it first, for sure, but this was an epic fail. imho.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Just finished watching the same video myself. Pretty devastating stuff that. The worse takeaway from that clip is that if Bernie was President, then it would be Obama all over again and that would break a lot of people’s hearts. A President Bernie may have even passed a Social Security Grand Bargain. Turns out he may not be who we thought he was.

      I can see America in a year’s time though. The corporations and wealthy individuals would have used that $4 trillion, given to them by the taxpayer, to buy up all the bankrupted smaller businesses thus nearly killing off most independent businesses. It will nearly be all chains and monoliths like Amazon. It will be even more predatory, it will be even more rapacious and will be fabulously unable to adapt to changing conditions in a changing world.

      1. urblintz

        “… if Bernie was President, then it would be Obama all over again…”
        I don’t know Rev, If that were true why wouldn’t the Dem leadership support him against Trump as a stronger candidate than Biden and the perfect rhetorical head-fake against a “socialism” they won’r really have to worry about? Then again, having red-baited him for 5 years…

        I think the truth is somewhere in between Stoller’s anger and that one moment when he mentioned that what Bernie is doing is “important.” I feel the same anger and outraged disappointment at Bernie’s horrid vote but give him a little more leeway in justifying it (“lying” Stoller would say) as a media moment at a time when the media has disappeared him even more than before. The bill was gonna pass. We can never forget (as I too often do) that it’s politics and politics is Hollywood for ugly people. They are all acting. And there are real reasons to like Bernie’s monologue more than the others, no matter how outdated (as Stoller also suggests) the language.

        1. Carey

          Does this mean that Senator Sanders is keeping his powder dry, until we reach
          a real watershed moment? This *is* the watershed moment..


        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I am unhappy with Stoller’s anger — that he let it fill his report with invective. I understand and share his anger and disgust but Stoller is an important spokesman. I worry that he may forget that what is suitable for a discussion with Dore will not help make his case in other venues. I have not hunted up his testimony to the Senate or Congress and suspect I should to regain balance in my impression of Matt Stoller.

          [I am also curious what happened between Matt Stoller and the Open Markets Institute. I couldn’t find out much about the Open Markets Institute but it has a strangely disquieting appearance of too much gloss for the claimed financial support.]

    2. Susan the other

      Yes. And last nite on Democracy Now Amy interviewed Matt. She was all for him until he blamed the democrats for betraying the public and the interview went south pretty fast. But Matt was right. He said what I’ve been thinking that this isn’t a 2Tr grant to the public for basic survival as it is a vehicle to save the big neoliberals – 500 billion out of the 2.2 trillion goes,, at the President’s discretion to bail out corporations and 500 million of that money can be “leveraged by the Fed at the discretion of fucking Blackstone up to as much as an arbitrary 4.5 trillion limit. But, says Trump at the signing as Mitch laughs: “And there will probably be more to come.” I think Matt is correct to call it a 6.5 trillion dollar cover up. But it also occurs to me that it’s in the spirit of an easement. In that we now have to ease ourselves into another economic paradigm, another ideology and cause the least harm possible. It’s an absurd amount of money which only serves to prove that money really doesn’t matter. Evolution is better than revolution – and one avoidable thing about human evolution is that it goes hand in hand with rationalization. Like something will evolve from the ideological disagreement between Matt and Amy. And etc. for a decade.

      1. Susan the other

        Matt’s new book about the 100 year battle between monopoly and democracy might be too pessimistic at this point in our political evolution. Because 6.5 trillion dollars?? That’s a punchline for capitalism, reminiscent of “The Aristocrats!”. It’s gotta be over. Wolfgang Streeck is making the same point in his book “How Will Capitalism End” (I think that’s the title – it is the theme.) He is observing the disintegration without the same sense of betrayal as Matt has expressed, probably because the EU is more socialist and maintains a more just society still, in spite of the latest neoliberal onslaught.

  16. martell

    For what it’s worth, the bearded one wouldn’t define working class that way. It’s not just a matter selling one’s labor to survive. House cleaners do that, as do independent plumbers, K-12 school teachers, and government employees, like census workers. Being working class, for Marx, is a matter of being in an exploitative relationship with capitalists, a relationship mediated by things capitalists control (means of production that, in the context of this relationship, count as capital). The relationship works like this: in return for wages, workers agree to do the bidding of capitalists for some set amount of time (in effect renting themselves out to capitalists). Enjoying authority over workers’ activity, capitalists do everything they can to make sure that the value added by labor to whatever they’re selling is greater than the value of wages, thus ensuring a surplus which the capitalists, of course, also control.

  17. stefan

    In the next few of weeks people are going to run out of money and really feel the pinch.

    In the absence of rapidly ramping up widespread testing, contact-tracing, and quarantine, the virus is going to penetrate less densely populated areas much more noticeably, and persist indefinitely.

    We are truly entering failed state territory and things will feel much grimmer in three or four weeks. Will the social unrest be organized and rational? Or will it be incoherent and chaotic? Will the reaction to unrest be sensible or unreasonable?

    Things may be shaking apart faster than we think. Governmental reaction so far has been neither far-seeing nor encouraging.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I share your concerns. Things are quiet for now but when money runs out and the foreclosures and evictions start, that could change. I suppose the ‘when’ might depend on what State and local conditions. But all it will take is some triggering event as tension and anxiety increase. Governmental reaction has been illuminating.

  18. Denis Drew

    Lambert, Lambert, Lambert; why not take the easy (Republican mimicking?!) path to transforming America into Germany?

    Should Republicans win back the house while holding on to the senate and white house they must certainly foist a ratchet down labor law – like the one they had in the hopper last congress, requiring union recert/decert elections at every private (non-gov) workplace where union membership has rolled over 50% since last certification.

    Assuming the Democrats take back the senate next year, why (oh why?) shouldn’t they enact a ratchet up/ratchet down labor law – requiring periodic union cert/recert/decert elections at every private workplace as SEIU lawyer Andrew Strom has put forth?

  19. Arizona Slim

    Me? I am dealing with this current crisis through …

    … snark!

    So, if you’re tired of all the touchy-feely rhetoric, I am here for you. With plenty of free snark!

  20. ObjectiveFunction

    Glad to see I’m not the only one here to draw a momentary blank at ‘the Bearded One’ before surmising Karl Marx.

    Regardless, to complete a hostile takeover of the Democrat Party, the Sanders campaign would have had to engage successfully with the working class, and they did not. Worse, they got owned by the Democrat Establishment on Obama’s Night of the Long Knives.

    When you’ve lost….

    1. Michael

      The link goes to Hitler’s Night of the Long Knives. What was Obama’s Night of the Long Knives?

      1. BillC

        The six days from black misleader Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden, which resulted in Biden’s strong defeat of Sanders in the Feb. 29 SC primary, followed by the mainstream media hyping Biden’s thus-demonstrated superior electability, followed by all the remaining strong candidates other than Sanders dropping out and endorsing Biden just before Super Tuesday. If that wasn’t an orchestrated (reputedly by Obama in first person) political assassination, I don’t know what would be.

        1. pretzelattack

          it was like all those roman senators who stabbed caesar had just decided to act individually, when much to their surprise it turned out to be a collective action. “whoa, didn’t expect to see you here”.

  21. Susan the other

    Since you mention Russia before the 1917 takeover – we need to also look at Russia since. I’ve always felt that the “Soviet Union” folded after the Russians saw the US beginning to fail. After Vietnam it accelerated. They waited as long as they could in opposition to us but they were failing too. I often wonder if they would have folded so easily if they still saw us as fascists capable of doing them existential harm. I think not, simply because they are extremely tough people. But who knows about all of that?

  22. elissa3

    Kinda like your 420 420 2020 idea. A possible addition might be for everyone to hum during this period. Doesn’t have to be a particular tune, maybe just a hum. For 30 minutes. Anyone can do this.

  23. Terry Humphrey

    As a Bernie Bro I find his rejection by the likes of shit-stirrers like Jimmy Dore no big deal. In retrospect, Bernie in my view, should have embraced FDR and the New Deal and forgot the Democratic Socialist, Socialist Democrat wrangling so loved by those of us on the left. It was always “us” and not “him.” The fact that he got the working class more than anyone else could have or tried to in the coronavirus heist is left out of the “sheep dog” Bill of attainder. Once more the USA is on the brink of the evolution/revolution divide. Now we can go back to our arcane arguments about “the bearded one.”

  24. Upstater

    What is wrong with Mayday? It was begun in the US, an American original. It is a holiday celebrated elsewhere.

    4/20 is (take your pick): Hitler’s birthday, the assault on the Branch Dividians or International Potheads day.

    Of course, this presupposes that social media would all publication and dissemination of a general strike, which of course wouldn’t happen, pandemic not withstanding. Like voting on paper ballots, notice of a general strike would be more robust on PAPER.

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